Why I Decided to Buy a Bicycle and Why You Need One Too Coming to Cambodia

Straight after I have come to Cambodia I wanted to buy a bicycle. There were several reasons why I didn’t want to wait with it and needed to get myself one as soon as possible:

  • Bicycle is the most environmentally friendly transportation option, which is extremely important to me
  • Bicycle is a neat form of exercise that one may not otherwise get a chance to do due to busy schedule
  • Bicycle is an inexpensive form of transportation, ideal for travelers on a budget as it doesn’t require gasoline to keep going
  • Bicycle makes you independent. There is nothing worse than having to depend on other people and/or means to move from point A to point B
  • In Cambodia where Tuk Tuks – primary means of short distance transportation for majority of tourists – are driven by excessively irritating and rude people, bicycle gives you an option to show them all a finger and make yourself self sufficient, aka completely and entirely capable of moving yourself around without ever needing a Tuk Tuk
  • Also in Cambodia where Tuk Tuk drivers clap at foreigners from across the street and yell at them like they are cheap whores, riding around in your own means of transport (bicycle, since tourists are not allowed to drive motorcycles or automobiles) makes you unreachable for any of them. Taking this into an account, a bicycle will help you retain sanity as at least 90% of those irritating Tuk Tuk drivers will be unable to clap and yell at you ala crack whore style. The remaining 10% will still do it and ask you whether you want Tuk Tuk even though you are well off on your own way with your own transport. Tuk Tuk drivers simply don’t try to make their living by offering quality service or good price, but rather by irritating the crap out of tourists who will not take a ride with them because they need it, but just to get spared from being repeatedly approached in an uncivilized way
  • To further preserve your sanity, having a bicycle gives you the peace of mind because you know Tuk Tuk drivers will not see a penny from you which is awesome way to pay back for treating you like cheap hooker. If you didn’t have the bicycle, from time to time you will catch yourself needing transport other than your feet. You are likely to go ahead with a Tuk Tuk because they are omnipresent and represent a less expensive option to get moved around. An example of needing a transport even though you can do long distances walking is after you went for a beer in the evening and it’s time to go back to the guesthouse. Unless your guesthouse is located immediately next to the pub where you went for a beer, taking a walk through seedy neighbourhoods populated by local Cambodians will give you creeps and you will rightfully fear for your life. While everyone says that violent crime is low in Cambodia, the same people and publication warn against walking the streets after dark. No matter what the name of the publication that talks about Cambodia, they all warn about the same thing – there truly must be good reason for this unison. And there really is. Hence unless you have your own transport (such as bicycle), sooner or later you WILL get to a situation in which you will need to take a Tuk Tuk regardless of how irritating and rude those drivers are. Bicycle solves this issue once and for all

Bicycle is absolutely the way to go in Cambodia. I understood it right off the bat and would recommend it to everyone who is heading this way. I knew I was going to stay in Cambodia for a while so I decided to purchase one, however most guesthouses and hotels rent bicycles and if yours doesn’t, you can rent one from countless shops selling tour tickets or simply specializing in renting bicycles. There is no shortage of bike rentals in Cambodia and prices start at $1 for a basic one without gears. I once met two guys riding Cannondale mountain bikes – Cannondale is a pro line of bicycles so I immediately enquired whether they brought them with them to Cambodia but was told they rented it out here in Siem Reap for $5 per day. I don’t know where exactly it was, but there is a way to also rent quality bikes for those who prefer reliable and well equipped bicycles.

Area around Siem Reap and Angkor Archaeological Park is predominantly flat so riding bikes is easy. There are virtually no hills here whatsoever. The only challenging part is heat. Cambodian sun is scorching and difficult to handle especially if you putting your body through a workout by pedalling. Keep yourself hydrated and drink a lot of coconut water which costs only 2000 Riel ($0.50) and has all nutrients you need to keep you going in this sun.

For me it was a no brainer that I was going to buy a bicycle, I just didn’t quite know where to go to buy one. I have only been in Cambodia for one day and Siem Reap was small enough to manage on foot, but I needed a bicycle to keep me free from Tuk Tuk drivers and to have transport for Angkor (one way lift by Tuk Tuk to Angkor area from Siem Reap costs $5, or you can hire one for $15 a day, unless you want to visit more remote temples, such as Banteay Srei). Since I wanted by purchase a 7 day pass for Angkor and explore the area relentlessly as much as possible, I’d be looking at quite a bill for Tuk Tuks hence bicycle was absolutely the way to go for me. Furthermore – I’m very environmentally concerned and support transport option that don’t harm environment. Having nice exercise is an added bonus of riding a bicycle. As I had said, for me, this was a no brainer but I would highly recommend it as hands down the best option for transport in Cambodia, especially if you have primarily come here to see Angkor Wat and other temples from the Archaeological Park.

2 thoughts on “Why I Decided to Buy a Bicycle and Why You Need One Too Coming to Cambodia”

  1. Hi Mark,
    We are budget travellers and stayed in Siem Reap one week and have been in Cambodia for a month now. We can relate very well to your frustration and annoyance at the constant hassle from Tuk Tuk drivers, especially in Siem Reap (probably the city with the most tuk tuks per sq. km in this country) and agree a bicycle is an excellent alternative.
    However, we felt you were a bit harsh and unsympathetic in your condemnation of them (especially considering there are much more important matters related to this country to be discussed such as the government, education, child prostitution, sex tourism…). Many Cambodians unfortunately lack a proper education and do not have many (if any) opportunities to study or start businesses. As I’m sure you know this is one of the poorest countries in the world without any welfare system or benefits of any kind. All these tuk tuk drivers are trying to do is make a living in a LEGAL way. For many of them, it’s a case of don’t work, don’t eat. I’ve met some who sleep in their tuk tuks as they live away from their village.
    Yes, they are annoying with the constant hassle but that is only because they are desperate, partly because there is so much competition (and so few jobs accessible to them). Furthermore, one gets used to it and many can take a joke as a response.
    For your information, motos are available for rent in all other cities (bar Siem Reap and Sihanoukville due to a high number of tourist deaths caused by drink-driving). Having you own mode of transport definitely adds to the sense of freedom one looks for when travelling but it’s important not to lose sight of the bigger picture.
    I invite you to read up more on the corruption that goes on in this country at a higher level and subsequently all levels and is the indirect cause of all of these “small” annoyances.
    Regards and happy travelling.

  2. Hi,

    I understand the difficulties of the tuk tuk drivers and everything, but still I am not agree with their way: intensive tourist harassing.
    I am a woman, independent traveller, usually like to share with people, locals or foreigners, but that’ s really too much… Being hassled every minute by so many of those drivers or (put here the name of some of the other crew in Siem Reap’s “tourism bussiness”). Difficult to have a quiet walk around the city.
    After two days there I just decided to ignore them (“ok guys you do this way, I dont like that but thats your way…”) to preserve my own energy, and try to do my own. And many of them just blame on me. WTF they expect from us??
    Thats crazy… foreigners we just must accept their attitude, but they cant accept tourists ignoring them…
    Its not about being polite or something, its about respect and understanding, and that should go both ways.
    There is a lot of people in big troubles in Cambodia and around the world, but there is a lot of ways of doing things and some of theme are really not nice; maybe the tuk tuk drivers harassment is just a small concern compared to so many other things in life, but still, its really not nice.

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